"One is pathology and that's anyone if they have nodules all the way up to laryngeal cancer. The second is neurogenic-- that would be people that have had a stroke or a neurological disease that affects their vocal folds and causes them to be paralyzed. The third category is what we call functional. There's no pathology or neurological disorder-- they're just not using their vocal cords correctly."
To determine if the patient has a speech disorder, Ann conducts a voice evaluation.
"We do a computer reading when the patient first comes in. Then, we take a scope and put in in their mouth and the scope has a light on it, and we shine it down on the vocal folds and we can see how the vocal folds move."
"Then we can see if the vocal cords are moving together in a nice little wavy motion, but if there's pathology, then they vibrate out of sync and then we can tell how to treat it. We can tell what's actually happening with the vocal folds."
The clinic also sees patients that suffer from neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease. Ron Edmonson seeks treatment by using exercises to strengthen his vocal folds.
"Sometimes it's one shot to get there voices back to normal, sometimes it takes longer. It just depends on what's causing it and how long it's been going on."
Another service the WTAMU Speech and Hearing clinic provides is helping people communicate that no longer have a voice.
"Those that have had laryngeal cancer and had to have a laryngectomy-- they can no longer talk. There are several different ways a person might have had their larynx removed and can no longer talk, and our job as a speech pathologist is to teach them how to communicate and our job is to do that."
If you're interested in the WTAMU Speech and Hearing Clinic call the number listed to make an appointment, and they do ask for a referral from an Ear Nose and Throat doctor.